Attending Surrey International Writing Conference 2021

My blog post schedule states that I should be writing about my eating habits, but that’s not very interesting, so let’s talk about something else.

I was supposed to go to Tahoe with my company and party at Harvey’s. However, the Surry International Writing Conference (SiWC) started this week. I could miss part of the conference to spent a bunch of time with mask-less coworkers in a place getting snow and rain, or I can stay at home and network with other writers, building on my writing career.

Easy choice.

This is my second SiWC, and the second one that’s fully online. Last year, I attended because the Writing Excuses Cruise was canceled, and SiWC was the alternative selected by the Writing Excuses crew. We had our own time slots before SiWC where we could get together on Zoom and catch up. Then we attended the actual conference which was excellent all on its own.

SiWC 2020 was the first conference I really attended after the start of the pandemic. A few moments stand out in my memory. For one of the panels, we were allowed to submit the first few pages of a novel, which would then get selected at random and read by Mary Robinette Kowal to a group of agents and editors. The panel would then give a real-time reaction to the story read. Synthetic Dreams was selected and it received very, very positive reactions, both from the panelist and from the other people in the chat listening.

Another highlight involved a panel dedicated to the formation and running of critique groups. After receiving some instruction on how to run a group effectively, we were split into different rooms based on the genres we like to write, and given the opportunity to mingle and possibly start a critique group with other attendees. The group we started last year is still going.

There are a few other moments I can talk about regarding SiWC last year, but they involve alcohol and they’re mostly embarrassing. Suffice it to say, I had a good time last year and I’ve been looking forward to attending this year.

So far, so good. I’ve missed a couple of panels because of work, but what I’ve attended so far has been great. I’ve really enjoyed getting to hang out and chat. In fact, I’m late getting this post up because I got carried away, talking about books and roleplaying games and computer games.

That’s going to be my weekend, then. I still need to look at the schedule and plan around the panels I want to hear live, but I don’t have to fret over the ones I’ve missed because they’re all being recorded, and I have 30 days to listen.

Sunday is going to be special, because my friend Mike Baltar will come over and we’ll be able to “attend” SiWC together for a while. I first met Mike on the 2019 cruise, and he is one of the members of my critique group that I mentioned a moment ago. We got to hang out on the 2021 cruise, too. We both live in Sacramento. There’s really no reason for us not to hang out more.

From what I’ve gathered, attending SiWC in person is even better than this online version, which tells me I need to attend once Covid relinquishes its grip.

I’m excited, and really looking forward to attending.